Police officer attacked on Jan. 6 'sick' over Republican welcome of Trump at Capitol

Aquilino Gonell, a former law enforcement officer who was nearly crushed to death on Jan. 6, 2021, at the hands of the mob that stormed the Capitol, still carries shards from the building's tunnel entrance.

The Iraq War veteran showed those shards in an interview Thursday on MSNBC’s "The ReidOut" to remind the public about the day when rioters stormed the Capitol, stirred by then-President Donald Trump’s lie that the election had been stolen.

But he was also hoping maybe they could be shown to Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson, “because last week he was hosting the guy who sent the mob to tear down and knock down the doors of the Capitol where I almost died," Gonell said.

Gonell, a Dominican American, had to undergo physical and mental rehabilitation for his injuries. He said that Johnson and other Republicans who welcomed Trump are alive today because of his and his colleagues' actions Jan. 6, "not because the guy they are receiving as a hero. He didn't do anything to keep them safe. For God's sake, he is the one who sent them to the Capitol and here they are embracing him like nothing happened."

His injuries forced him to retire in December 2022.

police officer attacked on jan. 6 'sick' over republican welcome of trump at capitol

Donald Trump. (Evan Vucci / AP)

Trump made his first visit to the Capitol on June 13 and was given a rousing welcome, applauded even by some lawmakers who had condemned him following the deadly Capitol violence. The deaths and attacks on police officers were forgotten history in the reunion at the Capitol during which some lawmakers had an early birthday celebration for Trump with cake.

Gonell said that he and the officers he remains in touch with "felt sick" to see the senators last week "holding hands with the same person who made (them) run for their lives Jan. 6"

"It's like an abusive relationship they have," he said.

NBC News has reached out to Johnson's office for a response.

Gonell, a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in the Dominican Republic, testified in 2021 before the House committee that investigated the violent Capitol attack. He described the clash then as a "prolonged and desperate battle." He said that in the midst of it, he slipped and then was attacked and nearly crushed by the Trump supporters. As it became more difficult to breathe, he thought "this is how I'm going to die," he testified.

police officer attacked on jan. 6 'sick' over republican welcome of trump at capitol

Aquilino Gonell (Susan Walsh / AP file)

In his memoir, "American Shield: The Immigrant Sergeant Who Defended Democracy," Gonell writes about how the attack on the Capitol had tested him, and he contrasted the Jan. 6 actions with his loyalty to this country and its foundations as an immigrant.

He writes admiringly of the U.S. and of how he was able to rise from a poor household to be the first in his family to graduate from college, serve his adopted country and rise to become a sergeant in the Capitol Police. But he also devotes the second part of his book to the Jan. 6 attack, taking readers through the harrowing moments and how things escalated as Trump tweeted support for the rioters.

Gonell keeps pinned to the top of his feed on X, formerly Twitter, photos documenting the attack on him.

In the MSNBC interview, he remarked that in 2004 he was deployed to Iraq, where he said he fought for democracy.

"Here we are in the United States 20 years later and the party who sent me to Iraq (is) supporting someone who wants to be a dictator," Gonell said. "That should be striking and you should fear that because nothing good will come out of that."

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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